From April to September, boats run between Budapest and the towns of the Danube Bend. A leisurely boat ride through the countryside is one of the highlights of a boat excursion. All boats depart from Budapest's Vigadó tér boat landing, which is located in Pest between Erzsébet Bridge and Szabadság Bridge, stopping to pick up passengers 5 minutes later at Buda's Batthyány tér landing, which is also a Red line metro stop, before it continues up the river.
Schedules and towns served are complicated and change sometimes due to water levels of the river, so contact MAHART, the state shipping company, at the Vigadó tér landing (tel. 1/318-1704; www.mahartpassnave.hu; click on the British flag) for information. You can also get MAHART information from Tourinform.
One-way prices by riverboat are 1,490 Ft to Vác, 1,590 Ft to Visegrád, and 1,990 Ft to Esztergom. Trips to Szentendre cost 2,235 Ft roundtrip. Children 5 and under ride for free, children 15 and under receive a 50% discount, and students receive a 25% discount with the ISIC card.
The approximate travel time by boat from Budapest is 2 hours to Szentendre, 3 1/2 hours to Visegrád, and 5 hours to Esztergom. If time is tight, consider the train or bus (both of which are also considerably cheaper).
To Szentendre -- The HÉV suburban railroad connects Budapest's Batthyány tér Station with Szentendre. On the Pest side, you can catch the HÉV from the Margit Híd, Budai Híd Fo stop on tram nos. 4 or 6. Trains leave daily, year-round, every 20 minutes or so from 4am to 11:30pm. The one-way fare is 600 Ft each way. If you have a valid Budapest public transportation pass, the supplemental ticket is 265 Ft each way. The trip is 45 minutes.
To Vác -- An incredible 85 trains leave from Nyugati Station during the week and 58 on weekends giving you plenty of freedom on time of day to go. However, shoot for the train that leaves 7 minutes after the hour, since the trip is only 25 minutes. Other trains can take 45 minutes to 1 1/2 hours for unknown reasons. The one-way fare is 560 Ft each way. All of the trains are locals, so no reservation is needed.
To Visegrád -- There's no direct train service to Visegrád. Instead you can take one of 28 daily trains departing from Nyugati Station for Nagymaros-Visegrád (trip time: 40 minutes to 1 hour). From Nagymaros, take a ferry across the river to Visegrád. The ferry dock (RÉV tel. 26/398-344) is a 5-minute walk from the train station. A ferry leaves every hour throughout the day. The train ticket to Nagymaros costs 955 Ft; the ferryboat ticket to Visegrád costs 250 Ft for adults and 125 Ft for students.
To Esztergom -- One train every hour makes the run daily between Budapest's Nyugati Station and Esztergom (trip time: 1 1/2 hours); InterCity trains are not available on this route. Train tickets cost 955 Ft each way.
Approximately 30 buses travel the same route to Szentendre, Visegrád, and Esztergom, departing from Budapest's Árpád híd bus station (tel. 1/329-1450; at the Blue line metro station of the same name). Some are only on specific days of the week, while others are daily. Buses charge by mileage ranges. Depending on the bus, the number of stops, and the day of the week, it could be a pleasant or excruciatingly long ride. The one-way fare to Szentendre is 475 Ft; the trip takes about 45 minutes. The fare to Visegrád is 750 Ft, and the trip takes anywhere from 1 1/4 to 3 hours. To Esztergom, take the bus that travels via a town called Dorog; it costs 1,050 Ft and takes from 1 1/4 hours to 2 hours depending on the day of the week or bus selected. Keep in mind, of course, that all travel by bus is subject to traffic delays, especially during rush hour.
From Budapest, Route 11 hugs the west bank of the Danube, taking you to Szentendre, Vác, Visegrád, and Esztergom. Alternatively, you could head "overland" to Esztergom by Route 10, switching to Route 111 at Dorog.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.